Volume 558 Issue 7709, 14 June 2018

Volume 558 Issue 7709

Quick-change artists

Soft materials that can switch between 3D shapes in response to a range of stimuli have possible uses in areas such as robotics, electronics and biomedicine. But such transformations can be slow, with the shape changes sometimes taking minutes to complete. In this week’s issue, Xuanhe Zhao and his colleagues present a technique for creating soft materials that undergo rapid, reversible transformations in fractions of a second under the influence of a magnetic field. The researchers use 3D printing to embed and align ferromagnetic neodymium–iron–boron microparticles within a silicone rubber matrix. By controlling the alignment of the particles during printing, they can program specific shape changes in different regions of the printed objects, creating materials that can perform a range of movements such as rolling, jumping and grasping objects.

Cover image: Felice Frankel

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Insight

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    Antarctica

    Remote. Pristine. Unyielding. Antarctica was once all three; now it is none. Humanity ravaged Antarctica’s marine ecosystems and now tempts catastrophic sea-level rise.
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